Drinks

How to Make Old Fashioneds That are Anything But

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Being a great host also means being a great home bartender. We've partnered with Johnnie Walker and Bulleit to help you master a few classic whiskey cocktails, and put your own spin on them—whether you're mixing one up for yourself or entertaining guests.

Being able to make a good Old Fashioned is an essential life skill. And while it’s as simple as a cocktail can get—whiskey, sugar, bitters—it’s an easy drink to riff on, too.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Think of the classic drink as a formula, rather than a recipe. An Old Fashioned works brilliantly with any form of whiskey, not just the bourbon that most American drinkers expect. Sugar can be swapped out for honey, or raw sugar, or even maple syrup; the bitters can be changed, the citrus garnish switched up.

Here are three renditions of the Old Fashioned, each proving that it’s a beautiful cocktail with whichever whiskey you happen to love (or happen to have on hand)—Scotch, bourbon, or rye.

Bourbon Old Fashioned

While pleasantly spirit-forward, the Old Fashioned is a super-likable cocktail, with just enough sweetness to up bourbon’s warm vanilla-caramel notes. And while you might think of it as a wintery, sipping-by-the-fireplace drink, there’s really no wrong occasion for the most classic of classic cocktails. For a slightly richer version, swap out the simple syrup for one made with raw sugar; a flavored simple syrup would also work well here. Orange or ginger simple syrups both are fantastic, or you can put a little spring in the drink's step with an herbal simple syrup infusion.

Bourbon Old Fashioned
Bourbon Old Fashioned

Scotch Old Fashioned

The heather notes of scotch are a beautiful match for honey, while a twist of lemon brightens the drink up. For a subtlely floral-tinged cocktail, replace the orange bitters with lavender.

Scotch Old Fashioned
Scotch Old Fashioned

Maple-Rye Old Fashioned

Slightly spicy rye is a great match for the warmth and spice of cocktail bitters, with maple syrup as a pleasantly rich sweetener to balance. Want to dial up the warm-spice notes of the whiskey even further? Opt for aromatic bitters, which have a stronger cinnamon flavor than other varieties, and garnish with a piece of star anise in addition to the orange twist.

Maple-Rye Old Fashioned
Maple-Rye Old Fashioned

Whiskey isn't just great for sipping—it's great for cocktails, which you should keep top-of-mind as you're preparing to host all sorts of spring get-togethers. Like where this is going? Stay tuned: We're sharing six more great drink recipes—including riffs on the Manhattan and the Whiskey Sour—all featuring Johnnie Walker and Bulleit.

Do you have any favorite bourbon, rye, or scotch cocktails? Let us know in the comments!

BULLEIT Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. 45% Alc/Vol. The Bulleit Distilling Co., Louisville, KY.

BULLEIT American Straight Rye Whiskey. 45% Alc/Vol. The Bulleit Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, IN.

JOHNNIE WALKER RED LABEL Blended Scotch Whisky. 40% Alc/Vol. Imported by Diageo, Norwalk, CT.

Tags: Cocktail, Entertaining